Kalihi family grieves after teen’s death at Kapena Falls

Leighton Mow (Photo: Ryne Oshiro)

A Kalihi family is grieving the loss of 17-year-old Leighton Mow.

The senior at Moanalua High School died Monday while hiking at Kapena Falls in Nuuanu.

Firefighters recovered his body from the bottom of a pond after he had been missing for about five hours. Flowers now adorn a rock that overlooks that pond.

The Mow family is still looking for answers as to how this happened, and it’s not clear if they’ll ever find out.

According to his family, Mow went to Kapena Falls to celebrate a friend’s birthday. There were about a dozen of them and his father had told him to be careful, especially when diving in the pool.

“I did tell him, ‘Do not go head first,’ so we don’t know what happened if he dived in or fell in or jumped in the wrong way, who knows?” said Mow’s father, Creighton.

Family members say Mow has been there a few times with his friends, so he is familiar with the area and they’re not sure how this could have happened.

Mow is the youngest of four children who, family members say, always did what his parents asked. He also set high goals for his senior year at Moanalua High School. He had worked hard to make the varsity baseball team and won an award at an engineering camp on the mainland this summer.

He was also trying to get a scholarship at Purdue University to study mechanical engineering.

“He had his goals set so this is like the end of the road for him, which is not the road we want to take,” Creighton Mow said. “We wanted to take the right road, but this is what happens.”

Mow’s family said he was well-liked and enjoyed the company of lots of friends.

Kapena Falls
Read more: State investigates Kapena Falls death, safety measures

Many of them went to Kapena Falls to help with the search and have been stopping by the house since last night.

“The baseball team came to the site to see if they could help and we appreciate their time and effort and they’ve already visited so it’s very consoling to him and to Leighton to know that he was so special to so many people,” said Jocelyn Chun, Leighton’s aunt.

Mow’s father said the last thing he said to Mow was “Be safe,” and his response was, “Dad, I’m always safe.”

An autopsy has been scheduled for Wednesday to determine Mow’s cause of death.

The family can only hope that it provides more answers.

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